Monarchs and Hidden Gems: My Twelve Dead Princesses Review

Every once in a while, I stumble across a hidden gem of a book that I want to shove in everyone's faces. Turns out, there are some great reads that aren't already plastered all over the internet -- who'd have thought? :P Today, allow me to rave about a YA fantasy that, in my opinion, should be plastered everywhere on the grounds of sheer awesomeness.


Book Title: Twelve Dead Princesses
Author: Eleanor M. Rasor
Publisher/Year: The Telling Room, 2019
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 324
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):
Twelve Dead Princesses is a dark retelling of the classic fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. 
Shortly before Larka, soon-to-be-queen of Belmarros, comes of age, she and her eleven sisters fall ill. On the brink of death, they are saved by Sol, a tattooed stranger with powerful magic, and find themselves owing him a debt. 
Sol, however, is more than meets the eye, and he wants the princesses to dance for him at night in his otherworldly kingdom. As they dance, Larka finds it increasingly difficult to balance their secret visits, her responsibilities as future queen, and her growing attraction to Sol.

Y’all know I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings, so obviously I had to pick this one up. It’s also written by a friend of mine, Eleanor M. Rasor, who’s a total genius with stories so I knew it was gonna be good. Obviously the title is a play on the Twelve Dancing Princesses, which is the main inspiration, but it also plays off the Hades and Persephone myth pretty heavily.

Fantasy Politics Here We Go!

If you like court intrigue and politics in your fantasy, this book has you covered! The viewpoint character, Larka, is the oldest of the twelve princesses and heir to the throne, and she has to grapple with juicy stuff like her council keeping secrets from her, choosing a suitor, and making sure nobody finds out about her debt to the sorcerer.

And uh, maybe falling in love with the sorcerer by accident. Oops.

The political aspect was also a key part of Larka's character development. She starts off the story being pretty unsure of herself, and wishing she wasn't going to be the queen, but by the end she grows into a confident ruler who's ready to use her power for good. 

Get Ready to Have Your Sanity Destroyed

If you like a third act with a ton of twists that will COMPLETELY destroy your sanity, then this is definitely the book for you! I missed dinner because I gobbled the last hundred pages or so up in one sitting to find out what happens.

I can’t say much more without spoilers, but basically there’s a lot of mystery around the sorcerer and his circumstances that builds to a pretty gobsmacking conclusion.

Trigger Warnings for Twelve Dead Princesses

This book might not be for you if you're sensitive to depictions of death, blood (though it's mainly golden ichor), kidnapping/abduction, and mentions of miscarriage and parent death.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy fairytale retellings, court intrigue, hot sorcerers, and being personally victimized by the plot twists, I highly recommend this book! Time for me to go sleep off the book hangover now ...

Twelve Dead Princesses is currently only available from Print: A Bookstore, which ships everywhere in the U.S. and has free shipping on orders over $20. Click here to get your copy!

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